Racing Past

The History of Middle and Long Distance Running

Articles / Profile

Chepkwony, Anentia and Maiyoro: The First Kenyan Runners Kenyan runners first appeared on the international running scene in the mid-1950s. Since Kenya was at that time a British colony, it was natural that these Kenyan runners initially competed in Britain and in the Empire Games. Lazaro Chepkwony was the first, competing in the 1954 AAA Six Miles in London. There were two other trailblazers in the 1950s: Nyandika Maiyoro also appeared in the 1954 AAA Championships, as well as in the 1954 Empire Games, and Arere Anentia made his international debut in the 1956 Olympics. Both these runners had longer international careers than Chepkwony’s; Maiyoro competed until 1960, Anentia until 1962. Maiyoro was the most successful, finishing 7th and 6th in consecutive Olympic 5,000 finals . Anentia’s best achievement was a bronze medal in the 1958 Empire Games Six Miles. Between them, these three early Kenyan runners broke over a dozen Kenyan records from 1,500 to Six Miles. They were the warning sign of the tsunami of Kenyan distance runners to hit the running scene in the next decades; they set the stage for the great Kenyan runner—Kip Keino.

Chris Brasher

3rd June 2013

Chris Brasher Profile  1929-2003b. Georgetown, British Guyana Chris Brasher, the 1956 Olympic Steeplechase champion, is mainly remembered today for establishing and developing the London Marathon. He is also remembered for his work as a sports journalist for the Observer newspaper. He became a multi-millionaire through his sports-equipment business, later donating of lot of his wealth to protect large tracts of wilderness in Scotland and Wales. His many successes after his retirement from competitive running have tended to overshadow his remarkable achievements on the running track.

Chris Chataway

7th February 2011

Not quite as talented as Roger Bannister, the cigarette-smoking Chris Chataway relied heavily on his exceptional determination to become one of the most respected runners of his generation. While the general public remembers him as the main pacemaker for the first four-minute mile, the more informed remember him for his epic 5,000 victory over Vladimir Kuts in a world-record time. “I beat Vladimir Kuts and helped Roger Bannister to break the four-minute mile,” he said years later. “In sport, it is stories, not statistics, that matter.” (The Pacemaker, No. 93, 2003).

Dave Power

1st June 2011

Dave Power: Profile1928-2014One of the greatest Australian runners between 1958 and 1962, Dave Power was overshadowed by the world records and gold medals of Herb Elliott and Murray Halberg. Power never set a world record, but his competitive record in major games has rarely been matched: two gold medals in the 1958 Commonwealth Games, a bronze and a fifth place in the 1960 Olympics and two silver medals in the 1962 Commonwealth Games. It is worth noting that he achieved all this in his thirties. For Power, the road to the top was a long one; he competed in his first national championships back in 1950-1. When many would have abandoned the rigorous training he undertook, Power’s joy of running and appetite for success kept him going. His tenacity and courage were admired by many of his peers.

DAVID MOORCROFT PROFILE   born 1953  David Moorcroft with his wife Linda and his coachJohn AndersonHis brilliant and stunning 5,000 world record in 1982, which knocked 5.79 seconds off the previous mark, has obscured David Moorcroft’s fine competitive record in his long running career. True the English runner did not achieve Olympic glory, but he did win two Commonwealth golds (1978, 1,5000 and 1982 5,000), a European bronze and a European Cup title (5,000 in 1982). In the years 1975 to 1982 he was rarely beaten when he was in top shape.

Derek Ibbotson

17th March 2011

PROFILE: DEREK IBBOTSONb. 1932   Huddersfield-born Derek Ibbotson personifies Yorkshire grit. Not blessed with the basic talent of some of his rivals, he more than made up for this with his determination and courage.  I have an enduring vision of him training with Alan Simpson at my local track: there was a hunger in his pained face, a desperation in his ungainly running action. Did anyone train as hard as this? Ibbotson wanted success badly, and he was willing to make the necessary sacrifices. Herb Elliott, in his introduction to Ibbotson’s book Four-minute Smiler, wrote that “Derek’s greatness comes from his competitive spirit; the will to excel; strength built into him from years of hard cross-country running; and the accompanying ability to drive himself to the limits of endurance.” (FMS, 12)

Dick Quax Profile

10th December 2014

1948-20186’0” (183 cm), 140-143lbs (65-66 kg) Dick Quax is an important member of the New Zealand distance-running pantheon. He stands as an equal alongside the likes of Lovelock, Halberg, Baillie, Magee, Snell, Davies, Walker and Dixon. An Olympic silver medal, a Commonwealth silver medal and a 5,000 world record were his greatest achievements. There would surely have been more medals had he not been prevented from competing in major games by injuries and an Olympic boycott. He was also versatile, running the 1,500 in 3:35.9 yet posting the second-fastest ever 15,000 (43:01.7) and a 2:10:47 marathon when the world bests were 42:54.8 and 2:09.01. Quax’s crisp running gait was unusual in that he landed further to the front of his foot than most runners.

Eamonn Coghlan Profile   b. Nov 21, 1952 When he was 19, Eamonn Coghlan almost threw away his big chance to become an international runner. The previous year he had accepted an athletic scholarship from Villanova University to train with famed coach Jumbo Elliott and had left his native Dublin to live in the USA. With no experience of life outside Dublin, he had a difficult time at Villanova. Culture shock, homesickness and academic difficulties hit him hard. As to running, he was also surprised by the severity of the track sessions (20x440 in 68 with 220 jog), double the amount of work he had done back in Ireland. Then he got injured. Coghlan described his first winter in the USA as “the unhappiest time of my young life.” (Eamonn Coghlan, Chairman of the Boards, Master of the Mile, p. 62)

Emiel Puttemans

3rd January 2013

Emiel Puttemans Profile  b. 1947 In the early 1970s Belgian runner Emiel Puttemans was the leading 5,000 runner in the world. During the five-year span from 1971 to 1975, he was the fastest in the world for three of those years and second-fastest once. He set four outdoor world records (3,000, 2 Miles, Three Miles and 5,000) and twelve indoor world records (2,000, 3,000 [twice], Two Miles, Three Miles [three times], 5,000 [three times], Six Miles, and 10,000). He was also very consistent, running under 13:30 for 5,000 eleven years in a row (1971-1981). Despite all this, Puttemans’ greatness has been underestimated because he never won a major outdoor championship. His best Olympic result was a silver medal in the 1972 Olympic 10,000, where it took a world record by Lasse Viren of Finland to defeat him. This race showed the Belgian to be a great fighter. He was the only one to answer Viren’s acceleration at the bell and closing round the last bend, he looked like he might catch the Finn. It was only when Viren managed to accelerate yet again that the race was decided.

Emil Zatopek

18th February 2011

PROFILE: EMIL ZATOPEK 1922-2000        The word legendary is overused in journalism, but it is surely an appropriate adjective to describe this great Czech runner. It would also be appropriate to say that he was universally admired and respected. Going to see him race, as hundreds of thousands did, was an unforgettable experience—from his fierce competitive drive to his agonized running style. And although an aggressive competitor while racing, he was the epitome of a gentleman off the track, as many have recounted.